In 2012, Kavanaugh Sided With Trump Casino Over Labor Union

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Many labor advocates cite the case as evidence that Supreme Court pick Brett Kavanaugh has a history of faltering on enforcing workplace laws and the tumultuous union movement.

Exterior view of the Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino from the beach in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

President Donald Trump and his Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh have some interesting history.

According to Bloomberg, Kavanaugh sided with Trump Entertainment Resorts’ initiative to derail a unionization drive at one of its casinos back in 2012 — just six years before Trump nominated Kavanaugh for the opening seat on the high court to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy, who is retiring.

Kavanaugh was one of three Republican-appointed judges who voted unanimously to toss out an order by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) that would have required the Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey, to negotiate with the United Auto Workers (UAW).

Although the casino is no longer operating, Bloomberg notes that many labor advocates cite the case as evidence that Kavanaugh has a history of faltering on enforcing workplace laws and the tumultuous union movement.

"Kavanaugh, along with [Clarence] Thomas, [Samuel] Alito, [Neil] Gorsuch — and [John] Roberts along for the ride — will comprise the most radical, anti-labor-law Supreme Court in my lifetime," said University of Wyoming law professor Michael Duff, a former attorney for the NLRB.

Of course, a White House spokeswoman for Kavanaugh’s confirmation effort, Kerri Kupec, defended the nominee’s judicial track record.

“Judge Kavanaugh’s 12-year-record in labor cases reflects his reputation as a fair and independent arbiter of the law, based on text and precedent, who has ruled for both employers and employees alike,” Kupec said.

The initial casino dispute dates back to 2007 when the UAW hosted a media event with several supportive federal and state lawmakers who maintained that they had counted union cards and determined that the union had majority support in the upcoming vote.

Six days after that, the workers voted 324 to 149 in favor of joining the union.

Trump Plaza pushed back and asked the NLRB to throw out the results of the election, claiming it had been manipulated by the media event before the election and the show of support from politicians influencing workers.

Labor law doesn’t prohibit politicians from supporting or opposing union campaigns, nor does it restrict unions from announcing that they have majority support, according to Bloomberg. But under NLRB precedent, any conduct that makes the board appear biased could be considered grounds for making an election invalid.

An NLRB judge rejected Trump Plaza’s concerns along with a panel of two NLRB members — which included a Republican appointed by former President George W. Bush. They determined that even if there was anything improper about the pre-election press conference, there was not enough evidence to suggest that many employees knew about the event to the degree that it would impact the election results by such a large margin.

Later in 2010, a panel of three Democratic NLRB members also determined that the Trump Plaza was in violation of federal law by refusing to negotiate with the UAW. This prompted the company to bring its case to a federal appeals court located in Washington, D.C., where Kavanaugh has been a judge since 2006.

While Kavanaugh criticized arguments from both sides of the case, he ultimately went in favor of Trump Plaza by asserting it “defies common sense” to suggest that the news of the pre-election media event would not have been widely known. He also argued that the discrepancy in how many people knew about the event served as all the more reason to send the case back to the agency to be reconsidered.

“If we’re skeptical, if we find unreasonable the conclusion that only a few people knew, we should send it back, shouldn’t we?” Kavanaugh asked at the time.

He sided with a colleague’s opinion that the NLRB had wrongly “ignored the substantial circumstantial evidence.” They threw out the labor board’s ruling against the Trump Plaza and ordered the agency to reconsider the case.

Bloomberg notes that the case is still open today despite the Trump Plaza being closed since 2014.

Nevertheless, Trump owned 9.5 percent of Trump Entertainment Resorts Inc. during this time which owned and operated the Trump Plaza — all of which bears his name.

This revelation further shows that Trump is stacking the federal government with friends and associates who have either cut him slack or showed loyalty to him during his past as a real estate mogul. His personal ties to people influence his decisions to bring them on board rather than solely focusing on whether they are truly the right person for the job. 

Why? 

Because he is more concerned about his own personal gain, welfare, and protection than that of the United States. 

Banner/Thumbnail Photo Credit: Reuters, JIM BOURG

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